Let's Talk About Sex

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Nationally, nearly one million young women under the age of 20 become pregnant each year. That means close to 2,800 teens get pregnant each day (The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 117). A study by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation shows that approximately four million teens get an STD every year. Experts estimate that as many as one in three sexually experience young people will have an STD by the age of 24 (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation). So is this because of lack of education about sex or are teenagers just that careless? It could be a mix of both, but lack of sexual education seems to play a big part in this problem. Sexual education should be increased in school because problems like teenage pregnancy and STDs are becoming more of an issue and having more knowledge could help teenagers learn the consequences and risks of irresponsible sexual behavior.

The problem is a lot of parents do not agree. They think that by teaching and talking about sex, it will condone it. But a 1997 Kaiser survey of 13 to 18 year olds found that peers were the primary source for teens of information about sexual health issues. So maybe kids are engaging in sexual activity because they hear their peers talking about it and making it look “cool.” Learning about sex in sex education classes may not have anything to do with the reasons kids are doing it. For years now, sexual education advocates have been deflecting criticism by explaining that teenagers were born to rebel. At the same time, advocates were giving reasons to teach safe sex, the number of teenagers having sex was rising every year, and most parents blamed the expansion of sex education. Parents blamed these sex advocates for the climb in teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and hated that they were having detailed talks about sex and handing out free condoms at school. Today, however, the sexual revolution is receding among teens. In the early 90’s, teenage pregnancy was on a nationwide decline, and one possible cause of this could be because of the little bit of information teens did hear in sexual education courses. Still, they need to hear more about the risks, the consequences, and ways to stay safe. Sexual education is not what is influencing young adults in today’s world to have sex. It is a little mix of everything. Everywhere you go, you will find something that mentions something related to sex. The fact that “babies!” top the list of news categories at People magazine’s website suggest that pregnancy—celebrity, teen, unplanned, out-of-wedlock-- has moved into a new category of acceptance (Gulli 40). Today, pregnancy is no longer a scary word for teenagers. Entertainment tabloids, which have long style watch lists, have put Hollywood’s latest accessory on their list—protruding bellies. Teens, who are heavy consumers of media, are getting the message that “having a baby is the new handbag,” says Nicole Fischer, 17, who lives in Calgary and just gave birth to her son Cristian five months ago (Gulli 40). Big time celebrities like Angelina Jolie have made babies seem like the cool thing to have. In the last three or four years, she has gone from having one child to a group of five or six. A lot of young teenagers look up to big name celebrities and want to be just like them. It seems like in just the past year almost all the young celebrities have had kids. Jessica Alba and Nicole Richie are just two examples. Lilly Allen, a newly famous pop singer, also announced she is expecting a child at the tender age of 20, even though in a recent article in Marie Claire she admonished teen pregnancy. She now says she is surprised but thrilled about the baby (Gulli 41). Television shows like One Tree Hill have sex in their plot lines in almost every episode. The show’s very first season starts at Tree Hill High, with the six main characters as freshmen in high school. Even as freshmen, the group was fascinated by sex. Brooke, who was...
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